Top 10 beaches in Portugal

Portugal is a country with a history dominated by its long coastline; from the days of being a great sea power, its fishing industry and most recently tourism. Combined with an excellent climate it is little wonder Portugal is one of Europe's most popular beach holiday destinations.

There is a great choice of beaches in Portugal and these differ widely in every respect. The Estoril coast near Lisbon has a series of cosmopolitan city beaches whilst the Algarve's beaches are characterised by azure waters and fantastical rock formations.

Although the climate is Mediterranean unlike other countries in Southern Europe Portugal has an Atlantic coast which faces into the full force of the ocean waves. Many of the west coast beaches are excellent for surfing and tend to be vast expanses of golden sand.

Portugal's beaches are generally clean and this is reflected in a number of Blue Flag award beaches - a sure sign of a pollution-free, family friendly beach.

  • Praia da Marinha // Algarve

    Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal Inacio Pires / 123RF

    Ocre coloured cliffs are a trademark of the coves of the central Algarve, as are the amazing rock formations and clear aquamarine waters. However, with the possible exception of Praia Dona Ana in Lagos, nowhere are these rocks as spectacular as at Praia da Marinha. Over the millennia the ocean has carved the limestone cliffs here into various... read more »

  • Benagil Beach // Algarve

    Benagil beach cave, Algarve, Portugal Sven Grüne

    Like many others on the Algarve, Benagil was a small fishing village. Unlike many others Benagil has managed to retain some of its charm and a little of its industry. Along with the sandstone cliffs, clear waters and golden sand of this archetypal Algarvian cove you will find fishing boats, baskets and nets and a few of the fishermen who still... read more »

  • Praia da Bordeira // Algarve

    Bordeira beach, Algarve, Portugal CanStockPhoto

    Bordeira beach is located on the wild, western coast of the Algarve which is a very different place to the resort beaches further south. This magnificent stretch of wide open golden sand is pounded by the full force of the Atlantic waves making it one of the most popular surf spots in the Algarve region. One of the lovely things about Bordeira is... read more »

  • Praia da Rocha // Algarve

    Praia da Rocha, Algarve CanStockPhoto

    Praia da Rocha is one of the Algarve's best known and certainly most impressive beaches. A vast expanse of golden sand backed by the ocre coloured sandstone cliffs unique to this stretch of the Algarve. The beach's name translates to 'rock beach' and this refers to the numerous rock formations that punctuate the golden sand towards the western end... read more »

  • Guincho Beach // Lisbon

    Guincho beach near Lisbon, Portugal

    Guincho beach, near Cascais, is not what many people imagine when thinking of the archetypal Portuguese beach. Despite being within an hour of the capital, Lisbon, Guincho has a wild desolate feel. Well, except for the summer months when it doesn't!

    This wide stretch of fine, golden sand sits in the shadow of the forested hills of Sintra, one... read more »

  • Ilha Deserta // Algarve

    Ilha Deserta, Algarve Portugal Animaris / CC BY

    Ilha Deserta means deserted island and this small sandy isle just off the coast of Faro lives up to its name. At 7km (5 miles) long the island has plenty of beach for all of its zero permanent inhabitants. Even in the height of summer you would be unfortunate if you had to share your stretch of beach with more than a few others - not like the... read more »